Mall meetup in mostly monochrome

Last Thursday (over a week ago), we had our Service Dogs on the Town class at a local mall! Brad needed time to edit the pictures, which are mostly black and white. That’s why the delay in posting.

We met up just inside the mall doors, since it was cold and wet outside. Sabrina with Indy the Golden Retriever were there (with Indy wearing boots!), Skyler with Korra the sable Standard Poodle were there, me with Japanese Chin Alice, and Brad and Scarlet in their power wheelchairs were there, too.

Everyone but Brad standing around waiting for Phyllis

While we were waiting for everyone to arrive, it was a bit chaotic for me with Alice. We were next to some doors in a busy area, with lots of people walking by. Alice doesn’t like to approach walls, so we were struggling to keep her out of the more busy areas and along the sides of the mall. But Indy and Korra did wonderfully!

Korra is in the foreground, looking regal. Indy is behind her, lying down on the floor relaxing.

I took Alice out to potty, and when I returned a group of women started asking me what I was doing with the clicker. So while I was training Alice, I had to explain clicker training to them! That was pretty stressful! But we made it through.

Veronica is bending down to give a treat to Alice as a group of women stand around asking questions.

Eventually Sabrina called Phyllis, and it turns out she was not coming. So we started to make our way through the mall.

I was very proud of Alice walking through the food court! She hasn’t had much experience at all walking in restaurant areas, and she didn’t try to go after any food on the ground!

Walking through the food court, Alice is walking nicely next to Veronica as Sabrina and Indy follow behind.

We got to the elevator, and rode it up to the upper level. The elevator has solid bottom half of the sides, but glass on the top half of the sides, so it was an interesting experience for the dogs! Alice didn’t want to approach the elevator because it was in a wall and she doesn’t like to approach walls. So instead of working on it, I decided we’d save more elevator entry for another day. I carried her into the elevator, then set her down inside. She was totally calm and comfortable once we were inside the elevator, and was able to walk out of it over the gap between the elevator and the floor like a champ!

Brad took this picture of me holding Alice in the elevator from outside of the elevator.

We walked down the mall walkway for a while, working on our heeling. Indy and Alice also got to experience their first times being on an upper level with a railing only separating them from falling over. They did a great job!

Korra looking through the railing.

Alice did such a good job walking in the mall, I was very pleased with her!

Veronica and Alice in perfect heel.

We passed by Hot Topic, which is normally known for not being very accessible with super narrow aisles. But this store looked OK so we went in. I decided that the mall area plus a store would be too much for little Alice, so I carried her in Hot Topic. We worked on the dogs not sniffing merchandise in the store, and they did very well!

Everyone hanging around in Hot Topic.

After Hot Topic, I was kinda flustered with doing so much, so we decided to take a break on a bench. The only problem was that the bench had some black floor tiles around it. Alice had the same problem my first service dog, Sabrina, had. She thought the black floor tiles were edges of empty space! So she did not want to walk on them. With a little bit of training, though, Alice was able to overcome her fear and walk on them.

As everyone else sits around, Veronica trains Alice to walk on the black floor tiles.

After sitting a while, Alice had no problem walking back out across the black floor tiles, or on other black floor tiles in the mall. I did notice that she was sniffing quite a bit. In the past I haven’t really corrected sniffing the floor too much because she usually just sniffs and doesn’t pick anything up, and I know sniffing helps dogs relax. But I’m going to have to start working on it from now on I think.

On our way back to the elevators, Sabrina stopped in a store to pick something up.

Sabrina in her wheelchair checking out, while Indy stands next to her facing backwards.

Then we worked on walking past a pile of treats on the floor. The dogs did very well ignoring the treats on the floor! Alice likes to walk up to the treats, stop and look at them, and then continue on. She’s pretty funny!

Korra doing an excellent job of ignoring the treats on the floor and watching Skyler.

Brad got an interesting series of photos where I am training Alice with the pile of treats. We are walking up to the treats as a man is coming up behind us to one side of us. I am completely oblivious and continue walking right into his path! The man just shrugs and takes a detour behind us to get to the other side.

One in a series of photos of the guy deviating behind us as we step in front of him. Check out the pictures below for the rest of the series!

We wanted to head outside to sit and have a snack and chat. So we passed through the food court again, and lo and behold there were two other service dogs there! They were really well behaved dogs, and didn’t mind our pack going past them.

Diesel and Ozzie sitting in the food court as Alice walks by on one side and Indy on the other.

When we went outside to hang out, Skyler thought to ask the people to join us, so we had a really big group of dogs! We added to our group Anita with a black Standard Poodle named Ozzie and Desiree with Diesel who is a mix but I forget of what breeds.

The big group all sitting outside together.

We had a great time talking together, even though it was chilly.

Alice in her four-legged coat being held up in the air by Veronica so that the newcomers can see her!

Eventually it was time to go home, we were exhausted and cold! But it was a really great outing! We had an awesome time, and Alice did really well for her first Service Dogs on the Town class.

Pictures are below!

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